Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Prof. Dr. Christoph Kalter



Global History

Guest Professor (Gastprofessor)

European History in Global Perspective


Koserstraße 20
Room A 353
14195 Berlin

Office hours

Tuesdays, 3 PM - 5 PM

Please sign up here using the password ‚officehours‘.

Christoph Kalter is a Guest Lecturer of European History in a Global Perspective at the Freie Universität Berlin. After receiving his PhD in history from the same university in 2010, he joined the faculty as Research Associate & Lecturer the following year (2011-2018). In 2014/15, he received a Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and spent sixteen months as a Visiting Scholar/Visiting Assistant Professor at the History Department of UC Berkeley.

Christoph’s research interest is the history of late modern Western Europe. His publications focus on how decolonization, the global Cold War, and socioeconomic as well as cultural change have transformed France and Portugal after World War II. In analyzing how national histories unfolded through transnational entanglements and in global frameworks, the sub-disciplines his work engages with most are the history of migrations, of social and political movements, of international relations, as well as intellectual history and memory studies.

Christoph’s first book examined the global rise of the Third-World concept and its relevance for leftist intellectuals and activists in post-war France during decolonization. It was first published by Campus Verlag in 2011 and then in an English translation by Cambridge University Press in 2016, under the title The Discovery of the Third World: Decolonization and the Rise of the New Left in France, c. 1950—1976. Pursuing his focus on decolonization in Western Europe, Christoph’s second and current book-length project analyzes how the repatriation of some 800,000 settlers from Portugal’s colonies, Angola and Mozambique, around their independence in 1975 changed Portuguese society, its relation to Africa, and its relation to Europe.

Winter Semester 2018/19

Colonial War, Civil War, Cold War. Angola, 1961-2002

Master's Colloquium Global History

Approaches to Global History

Theorie, Methodik und Geschichte

Theorie, Methodik und Geschichte

Summer Semester 2018

(Post-) Imperial Captial. Lisbon and the Portuguese Empire

Radical Sixties. Global History in the Making

Theorie, Methode und Geschichte der Geschichtswissenschaft

Winter Semester 2017/18

Colonial War, Civil War, Cold War: Angola, 1960s-1990s

Theorie, Methodik und Geschichte

Summer Semester 2017

The Radical Sixties. Global History in the Making

Winter Semester 2016/17

Remembering Colonialism. France and Portugal, 1962-2014

Theorie, Methode und Geschichte der Geschichtswissenschaft

Theorie, Methode und Geschichte der Geschichtswissenschaft

Winter Semester  2014/15

Die Nelkenrevolution: Portugal 1961-1986

Theorie, Methode und Geschichte der Geschichtswissenschaft

Summer Semester 2014

Remembering Colonialism. Comparisons, Connections, Conflicts

Wissenschaftlich Schreiben. Ein bisschen Theorie und ganz viel Praxis

Winter Semester 2013

Kolonial-Bilder. Kolonialismus im Film (with Ulrike Schaper)

Kolonial-Geschichten. Frankreich und Portugal in Afrika, 1870-1975 (with Samuël Coghe)

Summer Semester 2013

1968 in Global History

Alliances and Foreign Policies in the 20th Century

Winter Semester 2012/13

Imperien auf dem Heimweg? Dekolonisations-Migrationen im Vergleich

Theorie, Methode und Geschichte der Geschichtswissenschaft

Summer Semester 2012

Siedlungskolonien in Afrika (with Sebastian Gottschalk)

Alltagsgeschichte, History from Below, Subaltern Studies

Winter Semester 2011/12

Geschichte Portugals im 20. Jahrhundert

Theorie, Methode und Geschichte der Geschichtswissenschaft

Summer Semester 2011

Einführung in die Migrationsgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts

Geschichte der Dekolonisierung nach 1945

Current research project: “Postcolonial People? 'Retornados', Migration, and Decolonization in Portugal”

As European colonies in Asia and Africa achieved independence between the Second World War and the mid-1970s, five to seven million European settlers left the (former) colonies and migrated to their respective countries of origin or citizenship. As a part of this process, more than 500,000 people, chiefly from Angola and Mozambique, headed for mainland Portugal from 1974 through 1977, as the last European empire was dismantled after thirteen years of warfare in Portugal’s African colonies and the overthrow of the Estado Novo dictatorship in Lisbon in 1974. Those so-called retornados, i.e. ‘returnees,’ constituted not only the last wave of the post-45 migrations of decolonization to Europe, but also the most significant one in terms of the ratio of migrants to the receiving society. The Portuguese faced an increase in their population of five or, according to some estimates, as much as ten percent, and migrants and residents alike experienced the arrival of the ‘retornados’ as a huge challenge in social, economic, but also political and cultural terms.

In a project situated at the crossroads of migration history, decolonization studies, and Portuguese history, I analyze the arrival of these people and their subsequent incorporation into Portuguese society. It is my contention that the ‘retornados’ provide a privileged vantage point from which to examine how decolonization changed Portuguese society, its relation to Africa, and its relation to Europe. On an empirical level, I analyze the competing and changing legal and colloquial definitions of the settlers-become-migrants; their state-sponsored integration into the Portuguese society in the realm of housing; their emergence as political actors in demonstrations, migrant associations, and specialized media; as well as their later reemergence in the public debate through intensified memory politics since the early 2000s.

My focus on how the Portuguese experienced the end of empire leads me to address historical phenomena and analytical concepts of broader scope and relevant to other times and places, such as ‘refugees,’ ‘forced migration,’ ‘integration,’ and ‘memory politics.’ Moreover, given the dramatic scale and timing of the retornados’ arrival, the long-standing tradition of an ‘imperial nationalism’ in the receiving society, and the special relevance of the Portuguese case as the endpoint of Europe’s colonial era, Portuguese decolonization and its migratory sequels are germane to an understanding of postcolonial Europe more generally. In fact, there is hardly a better place and time to study what happens “when empire comes home” (Lori Watt) than Portugal after 1974.


The Discovery of the Third World: Decolonization and the Rise of the New Left in France, c.1950—1976, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Further information and a marketing excerpt available here.

Die Entdeckung der Dritten Welt. Dekolonisierung und neue radikale Linke in Frankreich, Campus-Verlag: Frankfurt/M. 2011. (Campus Globalgeschichte; 9)

The book received the Walter-Markov-Prize granted by the European Network in Universal and Global History in 2011. Table of contents and marketing excerpt here.


Edited Theme Issue

Dekolonialisierung und postkoloniale Gesellschaften in Afrika — Perspektiven der Forschung, in: zeitgeschichte-online, June 2010. (Together with Annette Schuhmann)


Articles in Journals

"Rückkehr oder Flucht? Dekolonisierung, Zwangsmigration und Portugals ‚retornados,‘ in: Geschichte und Gesellschaft (GG) 44 (2018), 2: 250-284. 

“From Global to Local and Back: The Third World Concept and the New Radical Left in France,” in: Journal of Global History 12 (2017), 1: 115-136. 

“Nationalized Mourning, Nostalgic Irony: The Portuguese Decolonization in Film”, in: WerkstattGeschichte 69 (2015): 55-70. (Together with Inga Kreuder and Ulrike Peters) 

“La République décolonisée. Wie die Dekolonisierung Frankreich verändert hat,” in: Geschichte und Gesellschaft (GG) 37 (2011), 2: 157-197. (Together with Martin Rempe)

“'Le monde va de l'avant. Et vous êtes en marge.' Dekolonisierung, Dezentrierung des Westens und Entdeckung der 'Dritten Welt' in der radikalen Linken in Frankreich in den 1960er Jahren”, in: Archiv für Sozialgeschichte (AfS) 48 (2008): 99-132.

“Das Eigene im Fremden. Der Algerienkrieg und die Anfänge der Neuen Linken der Bundesrepublik”, in: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft (ZfG) 55 (2007), 2: 142-161.

Book Chapters

Gente pós-colonial: Quem eram os retornados?, in: Retornar. Traços de memória do fim do império, ed. by Elsa Peralta, Bruno Goís, and Joana Oliveira. Lisbon: Edições 70, 2017: 101-120. 

“A Shared Space of Imagination, Communication, and Action: Perspectives on the History of the 'Third World'”, in: The Third World in the Global 1960s, ed. by Samantha Christiansen and Zachary A. Scarlett. New York: Berghahn Books, 2013: 23-38.

“Tiers-monde et gauche radicale”, in: Histoire des mouvements sociaux en France. De 1814 à nos jours, ed. by Michel Pigenet and Danielle Tartakowsky. Paris: La Découverte, 2012: 378-389.

Aufbruch und Umbruch: Das 'Afrika-Jahr' vor einem halben Jahrhundert [Half a Century Ago: Departure and Upheaval in the 'Year of Africa']”, in: zeitgeschichte-online, June 2010.

“Les damnés de 'Nanterre'. Extrême gauche, tiers-monde et années 68 en France”, in: Les années 68, un monde en mouvement. Nouveaux regards sur une histoire plurielle (1962-1981), ed. by Geneviève Dreyfus-Armand. Paris: Editions Syllepse, 2008: 62-80.



“Portugal dos Pequenitos,” Coimbra, Portugal, 2013, in: Invisible Histories Blog, Center for History and Economics, Harvard University, September 7, 2017.

When ‘Third World’ Still Meant Hope”, in: FifteenEightyFour | Cambridge University Press Blog, November 4, 2016.

Hotels for Refugees: Colonialism, Migration, and Tourism in Lisbon”, in: Blog Global Urban History, March 2, 2016.

Le movement anticolonial et anti-impérialiste en France (1956-1976). Intervention faite en introduction de la soirée organisée le samedi 10 mars au Cedetim, Paris”, in: Bulletin de liaison du Cedetim No. 8, Printemps (2012).

“An Interview with Hubertus Büschel and Daniel Speich, after the Historikertags-Sektion ‘Humanitäre Entwicklung und Rassismus in Afrika südlich der Sahara 1920 bis 1990’”, in: http://www.zeitgeschichte-online.de/site/40209026/default.aspx.